James Pollard established his reputation as a painter of coach scenes, which represent a valuable pictorial documentation of the coaching era. With the demise of the coach and the onset of the omnibus and railway, Pollard expanded his subject matter and painted racing, hunting, shooting and angling scenes.
Pollard was the son of a painter, engraver and publisher, who greatly encouraged him to become a painter of horses. He was also assisted by the engraver Thomas Bewick, who was a friend of his father. Pollard began his career making copies after Ben Marshall and worked in his father's firm as a draughtsman and engraver.
In 1821, an event occurred that altered James Pollard's future. The King's printseller Edward Orme commissioned him to paint an inn signboard showing a mail coach with horses and passengers. This signboard was first displayed in Orme's Bond Street shop window, where it was greatly admired by the Austrian ambassador and led to many successful commissions. Pollard is also known to have collaborated with John Frederick Herring Senior on several racing pictures in which he painted the backgrounds and crowd scenes and Herring painted the horses.
Pollard exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1821-1839, the British Institution in 1824 and 1844, and at the Suffolk Street Galleries. Many of his works were engraved.